Meat & Livestock News

Debate Intensifies Over AgriZeroNZ’s Methane Reduction Goals

interior view of a steel factory,steel industry in city of China.

Concerns have been raised about the feasibility and scientific basis of AgriZeroNZ’s ambitious methane reduction target. The joint venture, which includes prominent agribusinesses like Anzco, Rabobank, Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms, Synlait, and Fonterra, aims for a 30% reduction in methane emissions by 2030.

However, critics argue that this goal lacks a solid scientific foundation and could have significant economic implications.

A founding member of the Methane Science Accord, Smith, has voiced scepticism about the initiative. She questions the lack of scientific rationale and econometric modelling behind the 30% target and its potential impact on New Zealand’s livestock sector.

Smith warns that without proven research tools, the goal might lead to a drastic reduction in livestock numbers, particularly affecting the sheep, beef, deer, and low-input dairy sectors.

The $165 million programme, funded by taxpayers and the agribusinesses involved, is seen as a costly investment with uncertain outcomes. Smith expresses concern that the focus on a blanket reduction could accelerate the shift from low-intensity farming to mass afforestation, further impacting the agricultural landscape.

AgriZeroNZ partners maintain that their methane reduction target is not intended to influence regulatory policies. However, Smith argues that such an ambitious goal could undermine ongoing advocacy efforts within the sector.

This includes aligning with more moderate, science-based targets proposed by organisations like Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers.

A recent study by Oxford University highlighted that a 15% methane reduction by 2050 would offset additional warming from New Zealand’s carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions. Smith suggests that AgriZeroNZ’s 30% target by 2030 might be overly ambitious and could inadvertently affect regulatory policies.

Smith calls for a reassessment of the target, advocating for a more realistic approach that includes a thorough cost-benefit analysis. This reassessment is crucial for the interests of New Zealand farmers and taxpayers, ensuring that the goals set are both attainable and beneficial for the sector.